Ross Douthat reviews Karen Armstrong’s latest book The Case for God.
And people think that Republicans are crazy.
As we try to shake off the financial crisis, here’s a bright idea. Take a law that has led to the writing of an enormous amount of bad mortgages and expand it. Then take enforcement away from bank examiners and give it to housing activists.
Sound like a poisonous cocktail? Well, it is what the Obama administration and Democrats are currently stirring up on Capitol Hill.
The White House and Congress want to expand a 30-year-old law–the Community Reinvestment Act–that helped to fuel the mortgage meltdown. What the CRA does, in effect, is compel banks to seek the permission of community activists to get regulatory approval for bank expansions and mergers. Often this means striking a deal with activist groups such as ACORN or unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and agreeing to allocate credit to poor and minority areas that are underserved.
In short, the CRA encourages banks to make loans they would not ordinarily make. What’s more, these agreements often require that banks offer no-money-down mortgages and remove caps on how much debt a borrower can take on. All of this is done in the name of “financial democracy.”
More at Forbes.
Excellent. A new Rasmussen poll shows that 78% of those following the Polanski story say he should go to prison.
Meet the anti-anti-terrorist here.
You can’t say that.
The Obama administration has marked its first foray into the UN human rights establishment by backing calls for limits on freedom of expression. The newly-minted American policy was rolled out at the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council, which ended in Geneva on Friday. American diplomats were there for the first time as full Council members and intent on making friends.
President Obama chose to join the Council despite the fact that the Organization of the Islamic Conference holds the balance of power and human rights abusers are among its lead actors, including China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Islamic states quickly interpreted the president’s penchant for “engagement” as meaning fundamental rights were now up for grabs. Few would have predicted, however, that the shift would begin with America’s most treasured freedom.
For more than a decade, a UN resolution on the freedom of expression was shepherded through the Council, and the now defunct Commission on Human Rights which it replaced, by Canada. Over the years, Canada tried mightily to garner consensus on certain minimum standards, but the “reformed” Council changed the distribution of seats on the UN’s lead human rights body. In 2008, against the backdrop of the publication of images of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, Cuba and various Islamic countries destroyed the consensus and rammed through an amendment which introduced a limit on any speech they claimed was an “abuse . . . [that] constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination.”
Read the complete article here.
An Italian scientist claims to have reproduced the Shroud of Turin.
An Italian scientist says he has reproduced the Shroud of Turin, a feat that he says proves definitively that the linen some Christians revere as Jesus Christ’s burial cloth is a medieval fake.
The shroud, measuring 14 feet, 4 inches by 3 feet, 7 inches bears the image, eerily reversed like a photographic negative, of a crucified man some believers say is Christ.
“We have shown that is possible to reproduce something which has the same characteristics as the Shroud,” Luigi Garlaschelli, who is due to illustrate the results at a conference on the para-normal this weekend in northern Italy, said on Monday.
Read the rest here.
A week ago I did a post on the new book, Deep Church, and in the post provided a link to the book’s Introduction. Today, Ed Stetzer posted an interview with the book’s author, Jim Belcher. At Stetzer’s site you can also interact with Jim. See here.
My thoughts exactly. Theodore Dalrymple on tattooing.
The correspondent asked me: what was wrong with tattooing, if that was how people wanted to adorn themselves?
I tried to point out some of the cultural meanings of the vogue for tattooing. First, it was aesthetically worse than worthless. Tattoos were always kitsch, implying not only the absence of taste but the presence of dishonest emotion.
Second, the vogue represented a desperate (and rather sad) attempt on a mass scale to achieve individuality and character by means of mere adornment, which implied both intellectual vacuity and unhealthy self-absorption.
And third, it represented mass downward cultural and social aspiration, since everyone understood that tattooing had a traditional association with low social class and, above all, with aggression and criminality. It was, in effect, a visible symbol of the greatest, though totally ersatz, virtue of our time: an inclusive unwillingness to make judgments of morality or value.
(h/t Maverick Philosopher)
Here’s the Introduction of a new book, The Religious Left and Church-State Relations, by Steven H. Shiffrin, Professor of Law, Cornell University.
In The Religious Left and Church-State Relations, noted constitutional law scholar Steven Shiffrin argues that the religious left, not the secular left, is best equipped to lead the battle against the religious right on questions of church and state in America today. Explaining that the chosen rhetoric of secular liberals is poorly equipped to argue against religious conservatives, Shiffrin shows that all progressives, religious and secular, must appeal to broader values promoting religious liberty. He demonstrates that the separation of church and state serves to protect religions from political manipulation while tight connections between church and state compromise the integrity of religious institutions.
Shiffrin discusses the pluralistic foundations of the religion clauses in the First Amendment and asserts that the clauses cannot be confined to the protection of liberty, equality, or equal liberty. He explores the constitutional framework of religious liberalism, applying it to controversial examples, including the Pledge of Allegiance, the government’s use of religious symbols, the teaching of evolution in public schools, and school vouchers. Shiffrin examines how the approaches of secular liberalism toward church-state relations have been misguided philosophically and politically, and he illustrates why theological arguments hold an important democratic position–not in courtrooms or halls of government, but in the public dialogue. The book contends that the great issue of American religious politics is not whether religions should be supported at all, but how religions can best be strengthened and preserved.
Ed Stezer on The Future of the Church and its Mission.
Here are the facts: North America is the only continent in the world where the church is not growing. In North America, the church is in decline. Some even claim it is dying. Most denominations — including evangelical denominations — are shrinking.
While the global spread of Christianity and its explosion in the Global South needs to encourage us, our leaders must ask themselves: What must the North American church become and do in this season of decline?
Three interesting posts from Tim Stafford, Senior Writer for Christianity Today:
An Appreciation of N.T. Wright here.
Two Stories of Creation here.
Evangelicals and Science here.
The New Shape of World Christianity here.
Time magazine on How Moses Shaped America here.
Steve Schmidt claims that picking Palin to run for President in 2012 would be “catastrophic” for the GOP. It should be noted, as Newsweek points out, that is was Schmidt who advised McCain to pick Palin as his vice presidential candidate.
Looks like there’s at least one high-profile Republican who won’t be voting for Sarah Palin should she run in 2012. Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s top political strategist in 2008, told a forum in Washington today that nominating Palin as the party’s next presidential nominee would be “catastrophic” for Republicans. “I think that she has talents, but my honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate,” Schmidt said. “In fact, were she to be the nominee, we would have a catastrophic election result.”
I was divorced after spending 26 years with the same woman, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I barely survived the breakup. New research is highlighting the profound effect that divorce has on the people involved.
Married people tend to be healthier than single people. But what happens when a marriage ends?
New research shows that when married people become single again, whether by divorce or a spouse’s death, they experience much more than an emotional loss. Often they suffer a decline in physical health from which they never fully recover, even if they remarry.
And in terms of health, it’s not better to have married and lost than never to have married at all. Middle-age people who never married have fewer chronic health problems than those who were divorced or widowed.
Read the rest at the NYT.
(h/t First Thoughts)
This is a great post from Neo-Neocon on the true nature of liberals. Some good comments as well.
The WSJ interviews Whole Foods founder John Mackey.